Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Far Better than a Funeral

How many times have you been to a funeral and said or heard the following?

                It’s been lovely to see you again 
                                     – pity it’s under these circumstances.

We really should meet up more often.

          _______ would have really enjoyed this!

    It’s such a shame we don’t make the effort to all get together.

Life goes through many stages. In our school days there are lots of birthday parties with jelly and ice cream. They make way for teenage discos usually followed by a spate of weddings. Costly affairs with detailed planning months in advance.

Eventually, in families or friendship groups, everyone we know is paired up and grown up with families of their own. The get-togethers become fewer and far between.  Real life just gets in the way.

Until we reach an age when our social calendar is dotted with funerals. They inevitably come at short notice and although sad occasions there is often a lot of joy at meeting up with old friends and family.

Now my mother has always been someone who loves getting the family together. She and my dad make an effort each year to hold what they call “The AGM”, an annual meeting of dad’s brothers and sisters. Petty differences are set aside and they have an enjoyable afternoon together catching up on the family gossip.

It’s far rarer to get my mum’s side of the family together but last weekend was a great exception.

My aunt and uncle, who emigrated to New Zealand when I was five, are currently in the UK for a visit. For a long time my nana who is 85 has wanted to meet up again with her only living sister who is 91.

Probably the real catalyst to our gathering was the untimely deaths we have experienced lately. My great aunt lost a daughter from breast cancer a couple of years ago while my nana lost her son to bowel cancer. I think we’ve all been made aware how precious life is and this was a good opportunity to meet up for something other than a funeral and celebrate.

The last time I remember seeing my great aunt was when I was 16, and that’s too many years ago to count!

Tonight Dallas is back on our TV screens for the first time in over 20 years. Family dramas don’t get any more glitzier but times have moved on and now we are going to find out what happens to the next generation of Ewings.

But every family has stories, real stories. My mum dug out the old photos and as the two sisters reminisced we learned more about our family in one afternoon than we already knew in a lifetime.

My generation got to establish our own roots as I got to catch up with my brother and cousin. Meanwhile our own children played together making new memories.

Here’s a new photo to add to the family album, a photo we can all share so easily in this digital age.

It is a photo of two sisters with their daughters, their nephews and my nana’s three grandchildren. All of us sharing microscopic strands of DNA that link us together and make us blood related.

However it is sharing our time together, our common memories, that makes us a family and in my mind a very special one.

When we next meet, in whatever circumstance, in tears or celebration, we will fondly look back and remember our happy day.


  1. Lovely post, friend.
    I *heart* the idea of an annual meeting.
    Just a time without drama when everyone can catch up.

    1. It was well worth the mad dash drive to my parents and back for the weekend - over 600 miles round trip - but I wouldn't have missed it for the world!